One of my objectives in this blog is to share ideas and strategies that have immensely helped me to take my marriage to the next level.
I am in an interracial marriage and this kind of relationship is particularly tricky and so I have made it a point to regularly read as many books as I can on how to have a thriving relationship.
One of the books that have immensely helped me to really boost my love life is a book I stumbled upon a couple of years ago written by an American psychologist by the name of Jonathan Robinson.
The book is entitled “Communication Miracles for Couples”.
What’s great about this book is the fact that, by applying the suggestions you find in the first few pages, you can immediately start noticing incredible changes in your relationship, even if your relationship has been suffering from the bad consequences of poor communication for a long time, which is the number one reason why many relationships fail.
As doctor Robinson says, most of us are more acquainted with how to fix a car than with how effective communication works and, sadly, very few people really invest serious time in learning how to communicate effectively with their spouse.
I used to be a very bad communicator and, as men generally do, I used to dole out advice to my wife without really understanding and acknowledging her feelings.
The book stresses the importance of giving our spouse 3 absolutely critical things: Acknowledgment, Appreciation and Acceptance.
There is an interesting passage in chapter one that says:
“Even if your partner is very upset, the key to get him to be able to hear you is to give him plenty of acknowledgment, appreciation, and acceptance. The three As are like deposits for your partner’s self-esteem bank account. When you give your mate the three As, his self-esteem bank “balance” temporarily goes up. As his bank balance goes up, he will naturally become more loving, more giving, and better able to listen. Therefore, when your partner is feeling stressed, the best thing you can do is make a “deposit” into his selfesteem bank account. Almost like magic, he will become more agreeable toward you. As he is better able to listen to you with love, you’ll feel better too. The destructive cycle will be over”.
The reason why our partner is often reluctant to listen to what we have to say is because we fail to acknowledge his or her experience and feelings and we say things that don’t take into any account how our partner feels.
I have made this mistake way too many times: on many occasions I have said or done things that have upset my wife (my wife comes from a culture that is characterized by high emotionalism and, in fact, one of the traits of Filipinos is balat sibuyas, meaning that their metaphorical “skin” is as thin as the sibuyas or onion and, therefore, it is very easy to get under their thin skin and upset them) and I have dismissed her upsets with such expressions as “come on”, “give me a break”, “you get upset too easily” or something along these lines.
The point that Dr. Robinson makes is that if our spouse is upset, instead of dismissing or minimizing her (or his) upset, we must fully honor and acknowledge her or his right to feel upset.
Dr. Robinson offers a very powerful communication tool called the “acknowledgment formula”:
It sounds like (or, It seems) you . . . Paraphrase in a sentence or two what your partner’s experience seems to be. That must feel . . . Guess as to how such an experience must feel. I’m sorry you feel . . . Guess as to what they’re feeling.
In addition to Acknowledgment, the book talks about two more As being Appreciation (meaning specific appreciation, as vague and generic appreciation has very little power) and Acceptance.
I am in an interracial marriage and my wife’s culture has a lot of things that are difficult to accept for a Westerner but if I want my marriage to thrive I cannot bash the environment that I myself have chosen to inhabit. The Filipino culture is what it is and the only way I can expect to enjoy a great relationship is by accepting my partner’s culture the way it is, flaws and all.
The 3A formula has proved to be a great game changer for my marriage and I recommend that everyone who is in an intimate relationship tries out practicing Appreciation, Acknowledgment and Acceptance and I think “Communication Miracles for Couples” by Dr. Robinson is a great resource to learn how to practice these 3 As.
COMMUNICATION MIRACLES FOR COUPLES BY JONATHAN ROBINSON (The following link is an affiliate link)